No handshake exemption for Muslim pupils, Swiss canton rules

GENEVA (AFP) – Religious belief is no excuse for refusing to shake a teacher’s hand, Swiss regional authorities ruled Wednesday (May 25), reversing one school’s controversial decision to grant exemptions for Muslim students wary of touching the opposite sex.

Parents or guardians of students who refuse to shake a teacher’s hand in the northern Swiss canton of Basel-Country could now face fines of up to 5,000 Swiss francs (S$6,955), regional education authorities ruled.

“A teacher has the right to demand a handshake,” they said in a statement.